Hibakusha Testimony Reflection: Goro-san

On August 3rd, the fifth hibakusha testimony was done by Goro-san. Regrettably, his talk was given to us over Zoom so it was slightly difficult to hear every detail he gave us. However, I was still appreciative of his details on the role of the community of Hiroshima. Due to air-raid signaling, Goro-san had chosen to stay indoors. This, according to him, is a vital part of his survival. 

Goro-san detailed that the community worked together to tear down the buildings. This is because of the fear of fire bombings. The buildings would catch fire and spread throughout the city if they were not taken down. The surrounding cities were being firebombed so Hiroshima prepared to be targeted next. Many of those working to do this included women and students. This, of course, led to the death of those working outside on August 6th. Goro-san stated that whether someone was in the shade or not was a huge indicator of whether or not they survived.

When the bomb was dropped, Goro-san described a bright light and heat felt upon his back. This area was burned from the blast but he was in relatively good condition. His friend, Kei-san (not sure if this is the correct spelling), was looking much worse. He was in extreme pain as his entire back was horribly burned. Goro-san had watched Kei-san and others like him suffer their burns. Goro-san then described the way in which radiation “sucked the life out” everyone, including those who got away with fewer injuries. The description he had given of radiation sickness put new imagery in my mind of it. The deterioration of a sickness can be horrific to experience as well as witness.

Goro-san’s testimony added emphasis on what makes nuclear weapons particularly cruel. It is especially the case for those who couldn’t have been aware of the effects of radiation. It must be confusing to see seemingly uninjured people become deathly ill after they must have thought they survived. The effects of such a weapon is bound to last much longer than the initial conflict it is used in response to. To make people pay the price decades down the line is something unethical that the use of nuclear weapons brings.

Luckily, Kei-san had survived even with heavy injuries. I’m glad to know Goro-san remained friends with Kei-san long after the disaster. I appreciate the glimpses of hope we receive within these testimonies. It is important to hear about the horrors but it is equally important to learn about the overcoming of the struggles. Goro-san provided us with both aspects in his story.

In closing, Goro-san expressed that his goal is to educate young people on what happened on August 6th, 1945. It is vital for young people to take the story and continue to tell it for years to come. When asked about the war, Goro-san speculated that it was reliant on the “foolishness” of his time. He wishes for the young generation to learn from the mistakes of the past so they may never be forgotten or repeated. His main statement is that the bomb should never have been used and opened the door to nuclear weaponry worldwide. He strongly believes in the repeal of nuclear weapons everywhere. I hope his message spreads and we can reach a future that Goro-san and other hibakusha imagine.

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